[EDITORIALS]The freeing of slaves

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[EDITORIALS]The freeing of slaves

All sorts of food chains are ruled by the law of the jungle, in which the stronger prey upon the weaker. The law still works in our society. In the corrupt system of the local entertainment industry, into which state prosecutors are now digging, we see the ugly face of entertainment power structure that is exploiting poor -- and weak -- entertainers.

On Sunday, the Korea Fair Trade Commission imposed sanctions against local entertainment production companies that the anti-trust watchdog said was treating its clients unfairly. The commission also announced that if the talent agencies do not follow its orders to correct their "unfair" contracts with their performers, it would ask public prosecutors to investigate the agencies. The watchdog body said that those contracts call for singers to pay enormous amounts of compensation to their production houses should they terminate the pacts before an expiration date, making it virtually impossible for their clients to end their contracts. Under some contract terms, performers are not even allowed to make damages claims against their production houses or the companies can sell their performers to other firms without their consent, or unilaterally end contracts with their singers or actors. These contracts are no different from slave contracts.

Moreover, it is a shame that entertainment-industry organizations, which are supposed to help promote the interest of the industry in general, put the entire industry into disgrace by trying to protect only the interest of their member companies, rather than solving the problems.

Powerful entertainment houses push around weaker performers with one hand, while giving bribes to some television producers with the other hand in return for allowing their singers and musicians to appear on television. The fair-trade watchdog's announcement suggest that the money did not come out of the pockets of production houses, but from the labor of their performers.

Performers live on their popularity. The hardest hit by the recent spate of entertainment iniquities are singers who regularly face the public. Their pride and honor won't be recovered until production houses and industry organizations reform themselves.
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